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Kalymnos
Κάλυμνος
Pothia
Pothia
Geography
GR Kalymnos.PNG
Coordinates: 36°59′N 26°59′E / 36.983°N 26.983°E / 36.983; 26.983
Island Chain: Dodecanese
Total Isles: 7
Area: 134.544 km² (52 sq.mi.)
Government
Greece Greece
Periphery: South Aegean
Prefecture: Dodecanese
Capital: Kalymnos city (Pothia)
Statistics
Population: 16,441 (as of 2001)
Density: 122 /km² (316 /sq.mi.)
Postal Code: 852 00
Area Code: 224x0-xx
License Code: ΚΧ, ΡΟ, PK
Website
www.kalymnos-isl.gr

Kalymnos, (Greek: Κάλυμνος) is a Greek island and municipality in the southeastern Aegean Sea. It belongs to the Dodecanese and is located to the west of the peninsula of Bodrum (the ancient Halicarnassos), between the islands of Kos (south, at a distance of 12 km) and Leros (north, at a distance of less than 2 km): the latter is linked to it through a series of islets. Kalymnos lies between two to five hours away by sea from Rhodes. The island is known as Càlino in Italian and Kilimli or Kelemez in Turkish.

In 2001 the island had a population of 16,235, making it the third most populous island of the Dodecanese, after Kos and Rhodes. It is known in Greece for the affluence of much of its population, and also stands both the wealthiest member of the Dodecanese and one of the wealthiest Greek islands overall. The Municipality of Kalymnos, which includes the populated offshore islands of Pserimos (pop. 130), Telendos (54), Kalólimnos (20), and Pláti (2), as well as several uninhabited islets, has a combined land area of 134.544 km² and a total population of 16,441 inhabitants.

Contents

Geography

Vathys valley

The island is roughly rectangular in shape, with a length of 21 km and a width of 13 km, and covers an area of 109 km². Moreover, on the north side there is a peninsula which stretches in a Northwest direction.

Kalymnos is mainly mountainous, with a complicated pattern. There are three main chains going from W-NW to E-SE, and a fourth one which innervates the peninsula. The coastline is very irregular, with many sheltered coves. There are some springs, one among them being thermal. The soil is mainly made of limestone, but in the valleys there is a compact bank of volcanic tuff, relic of an ancient volcano, located near the village of Kantouni. The island is mainly barren, except the two fertile valleys of Vathi and Pothia, where olives, oranges and vineyards grow.

Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence around Kalymnos.

Archipelago of Kalymnos

Kalymnos is neighbored by the small island of Telendos, which was part of Kalymnos, but after a major earthquake 554 AD was split and separated from Kalymnos by a strip of water (about 800 m wide).

Between Kalymnos and Kos there is the islet of Pserimos which is inhabited and, with an area of 11 km², is one of the largest among the lesser islands of Dodecanese. Near Pserimos lies the islet of Platí, and about 5 km to the NE there is the small islet of Kalolimnos.

History

Inhabited originally by Carians, during the ancient ages Kalymnos depended on Kos, and followed its history. In the Middle Ages it was Byzantine, and during the XIII Century it was used by Venice as a naval base. In 1310 it became a possession of the Knights of Rhodes, and later (mainly in 1457 and 1460) was often attacked by the Ottomans, which conquered it in 1522. Unlike Rhodes and Kos, during the Ottoman period there was no Turkish immigration to Kalymnos.

On May 12, 1912, during the Italo-Turkish War, Kalymnos was occupied by Italian sailors of the Regia Marina. Italy took control of the island along with other islands of the Dodecanese until 1947, when the Dodecansese finally were united with mainland Greece.

Religion

By majority Kalymnians are Greek Orthodox. They area small part of Greece that dose not belong to the Church of Greece but to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople based in Turkey. Kalymnos belongs to the Metropolis of Leros, Kalymnos, and Astypalaia.

Sponge Diving/Fishing

The Sponge of Kalymnos: The usage of sponge was first mentioned in the works of Aristotle and Homer. Since the ancient times, the life and culture of Kalymnos Island was linked to this marine animal; this is the reason Kalymnos is also known as the "Sponge-divers' island". Sponge diving has always been a common occupation on Kalymnos and sponges have been the main source of income of the Kalymnians bringing wealth on the island and making it famous in the Mediterranean.

The first Kalymnian sponge divers used no uniform or equipment and relied mostly on their ability to hold their breath in the sea. The traditional way of sponge-fishing before their replacement by modern technology and special equipment was the harpoon. The new technology allowed spongers to dive in greater depths and stay longer under the water. However, this otherwise positive fact caused the appearance of decompression sickness, also known as the divers' disease or the benz.

The Greek sponge trade was centered close to Dodecanese with Kalymnos being the most prominent for centuries and until mid-80’s, when a disease hit the eastern Mediterranean destroying a great number of sponges and the sponge-fishing industry by extension.

Sponge diving with all its traditions and history still forms the very soul of the people of this island. There is a celebration called Sponge Week taking place on the island each year one week after Easter to honour the relationship between the people of Kalymnos and the sponge, which is also known as the Kalymnian “Gold”. As usual in these occasions, the people sing, dance, and eat traditionally

By long tradition, Kalymnians are known for harvesting sponges from the sea-bed as close as Pserimos or as far as North Africa. Much has been written, sung and filmed about this ancient and dangerous occupation and much more concerning the legendary courage and recklessness of the sponge divers. Today, Kalymnos faces a lack of sponges due to the outbreak of a disease which has decimated sponge crops, although research would indicate that this is not permanent. Sponges are fished individually by hand and it is only a matter of time before the species will replenish the sponge beds and again take their rightful place in the island's economy.

Economy

Emborios in the northernmost part of the island
View of Pothia

Being mostly barren (only 18% of the land can be cultivated), agriculture played always a minor role in economy of the island, except for the valley of Vathi. The island is famous for its citrus fruits.

Kalymnos owed its past wealth to the sea, mainly with trading and boat building, but the main industry of the island was Sponge fishing. Here the island was the main centre of production in the Aegean, and still now is a traditional occupation with related exhibitions, along with other local folklore, at three local museums.

Another industrial activity typical of Kalymnos was the production of painted head scarfs, which were the most original component of the female dress.

In recent times, tourism has become important for the island, particularly for rock climbing. The island also acquired an airport, the Kalymnos Island National Airport near Pothia in 2006 to better link the island with the mainland.

Since the beginning of last century there has been a very strong emigration abroad (in 1925 the population amounted to 24,000 inhabitants), especially to the USA and Australia. The cities of Darwin and Melbourne in Australia, and Tarpon Springs in the USA house large Greek communities of Kalymnian descent.

Notable people

  • Skevos Zervos (1875-1966) surgeon
  • Nikolaos Vouvalis (1859-1918) sponge trader & kalymnian philanthropist

References

  • Bertarelli, L.V. (1929). Guida d'Italia, Vol. XVII. Consociazione Turistica Italiana, Milano.  

External links

Coordinates: 36°59′N 26°59′E / 36.983°N 26.983°E / 36.983; 26.983

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Kalymnos is an island in the Dodecanese group of the South Aegean Islands of Greece. It is known for its sunshine and limestone rock climbing cliffs.

The Arch, one of many natural rock wonders on Kalymnos.
The Arch, one of many natural rock wonders on Kalymnos.
  • Pothia - the commercial and civil center of Kalymnos.
  • Massouri - the tourist center of Kalymnos.
  • Emborios - Picturesque and unspoilt village on the north western coast of the island.
  • Vathi - Small village on the east coast with a beautiful "hidden" harbour.

Other destinations

Pserimos: an even smaller island lying between Kalymnos and Turkey. Telendos: an island lying off the coast of Myrties and Massouri. Can be reached by boat from a small pier in Myrties. Good for a day trip: beaches, restaurant, walking and climbing.

Understand

Kalymnos is most commonly visited during the summer months as Greek nationals and tourists escape the mainland heat for the sea breezes. Still, the summer months of July and August can be quite warm with daily high temperatures ranging in the mid-thirties Celsius. Spring (May - June) and autumn (September - October) tend to be more comfortable but more variable in terms of daily temperatures. Towards the end of October, the colder winds come in from the north, bringing winter, and the temperature drops drastically.

Talk

Most bars, restaurants, hotels and tourist shops exist mainly for the tourist trade and speak a variety of languages, including English (often fluent), French and German. Greek is only needed for using the buses and for more complicated situations. There is a fantastic small booklet on sale everywhere - THE SLOW GUIDE TO KALYMNOS - it is advert free and just 2 Euros - it is worth 10x that!

Getting there

By plane

Kalymnos has a new airport that commenced operations on August 10th 2006. The airport is located at Argos, Kalymnos (IATA CODE: JKL), located a few kilometers from Pothia. Olympic Airlines has scheduled service daily from Athens International airport. It is not possible to book flights FROM Kalymnos Airport on line - you must ring Olympic Airlines or visit a travel agent.

Airsea Lines [1] also flies schedule seaplane service from Lavrio Port,a few kilimeters west of Athens, to Kalymnos.

The next closest airport is on nearby Kos (airport code KGS) which has a regularly scheduled service on Olympic Airlines, and is well-served by low-cost airlines during the summer months to Central and Western European nations.

By boat

Most visitors arrive from the nearby island of Kos via frequent ferry service. There are two services; 'Anem Ferries' runs a large boat (The 'Olympios Appollon' OR The 'Olympios Zeus') which can take vehicles, and the 'Kalymnos Star' is a smaller, faster, passenger-only boat (occasionally replaced by the even smaller 'Kalymnos Dolphin'). Both vessels arrive in Pothia on Kalymnos. Both ferries depart from Mastihari on KOS island. Each makes several sailings a day, the number depending on the season and trade. There are alo a number of direct ferries from Kos town which stop at Pothia - they run every day from Rhodes to Athens and stop 'en-route'. Also the 'Dodecanese Express' - a fast and classy catamaran runs almost every day from Kos town also, as do the 'Flying Dolphins' - cigar shaped hyrofols.

It is also possible to travel directly to Kos as well as Bodrum, Turkey, and other nearby Greek islands. There is regularly scheduled ferry service to/from Athens.

Emporios village in northern Kalymnos.
Emporios village in northern Kalymnos.
  • Bus - Bus services run around Pothia and to various other destinations (every significant settlement on the island). The buses criss-cross the island hourly and fares are generally one euro for a single. Maximum 1-way fare from Pothia to Emborios is 2 euros (as at 30th Dec. 2008)
  • Taxi - A taxi stand (known locally as 'Taxi Square') can be found in Pothia, a few blocks north of the harbour front at the end of the main shopping street: otherwise, you'll have to call and request one. Many bars and restaurants will call a taxi for you.
  • Scooter - Many visitors to the island opt for renting a scooter. They are inexpensive (from about 10 euros per day), can be rented in the tourist areas and with the limited traffic on the island, make for an enjoyable way to get around.
  • Monastery of Saint Sava, Pothia: an attractive monastery perched high on the hill above Pothia. The church has typically beautiful decoration, and the view is very good. Open 10AM to 2PM, 5PM to 7PM. Either take a bus from Pothia towards Vilhadia; take a taxi; or take the short but hilly walk from Pothia.
Grande Grotta, Kalymnos, Greece
Grande Grotta, Kalymnos, Greece

Beach - Kalymnos is a relatively small draw compared to the neighbouring island of Kos but during the summer months the island swells with Greeks and tourists enjoying the sun and sand.

Rock Climbing - Since 2000, Kalymnos has become one of the premiere world destinations for rock climbing. The season spans year round though the most popular months tend to be the spring and fall when the heat is less intense and there are fewer visitors. At last count, there were almost one thousand sport routes on the superb limestone crags. The routes are almost entirely bolted (sport climbing) with fixed anchors, most featuring lower-offs. A 60m rope will suffice but more and more routes that are being put up (including many of the well-worn classics) require a 70m rope. You'll also want to have no less than 16 quickdraws.

If you are in Kalymnos to climb, your first trip should be to the Outdoor Athletic Association (called such because they coordinate and track the climbing on the island). The association runs a small office north of Myrtes (near the Poets wall) and is open daily during the mornings. Here you'll be able to get the latest route information and a free print-out of the routes -- a listing of the grades with directions on how to get to each crag, from there you'll find the routes as they are painted at the base of each route.

Stay

Take a taxi, or a bus, from Pothia to the top of the island. Massouri and Myrties are pretty busy and right on the road. But, the last village on the island, Emborios, is a haven of tranquility with a great beach (some of the hungriest, most persistent goats you'll ever meet), convivial bars and restaurants and a discerning crowd of visitors from around Europe. Harry's Paradise on Emporios is located in an olive garden with a lot of flowers where you can taste traditional dishes with unique receipes and also enjoy your stay at the really wonderful studios and apartments located in the beautiful garden. You could also take a one-way boat trip here from Myrties, a breezy, enjoyable way to arrive. There are plenty of rooms for rent in the village.

Eat

A promenade of restaurants and bars lines the harbour in Pothia, advertising everything from 'traditional Greek cuisine' to 'Fast Food Donald Duck'. The only real Greek food available are the ever-present gyros, souvlaki, calamari, and feta cheese; many different varieties of burger and pizza are also on offer, although there are 2 on the Platia in Pothia (near the Prefecture Building) that are always full of Kalymnians, which says it all.

Walk a street back from the harbour and find (ask directions to) the old-established and friendly Taverna Xefteris, for excellent (occasionally), unfussy food (memorable chickpeas slow-baked under a stack of caramelized onion and Kalymniot salad with chunks of olive-oil drenched crisp bread), fantastic rustic relaxed terrace with authentic atmosphere and easily affordable prices. Another good bet for the gourmet is to ask a restauranteur what fish they have in, which can lead to very pleasant results.

The best food can be found in the small villages and on the island of Telendos which tends to be better than Kalynos although it also tends to be a little more expensive. The best 2 restaurants are probably on the seafront at Linaria.

Harry's Taverna and Artistico in Emborios offer wonderfully fresh Greek food. At Harry's, the restaurant is a delightful garden, while at Artistico the views from the terrace out to sea are superb.

Drink

Best for food and drinks on telendos is at the arrival at Rita's , also for amost friendly athmosphere

Buy

Kalymnos is famous for its sponge harvesting. Within the larger towns of Pothia and Massouri you'll find stores with barrels full of natural sponges.

Stay safe

The risk of crime in remote Kalymnos is considerably less than in most parts of Europe - a combination of traditional values and a small population: everyone knows everyone here - nearly. We say 'The only criminals on Kalymnos are the ones that come here on Holiday'.

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